Chimpanzees Are More Averse to Social Risk Than Non-Social Risk

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08/02/20 Biology Reference this

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 Human trials have shown that humans react more strongly to social stimuli than they do with stimuli coming from other sources, such as economic gains. In humans, this has been proven through MRI brain scans that detect the activity levels in the human brain. Because of the similarities between humans and chimpanzees, the researchers hypothesized that chimpanzees would also be more stimulated by social queues than by other queues.

 In their first experiment, the author used 8 female chimpanzees as their test subjects. These chimps were first tested for basic logical reasoning before being chosen. Once the 8 chimpanzees were chosen, the tests began. The test was designed to test the social trust of the primates with each other. Two primates were put next to each other with a chain separating them. One chimp was given a token. There were boxes in both chimps’ enclosures. The chimp with the coin could elect to put the coin in a box which would dispense two banana slices to her. The chimp could also elect to give the coin to the other chimp, who could put the coin in a box to give both of them two banana slices, or put the coin in a box that would only give her the banana slices. This tested social risk that the chimps would take to gain a larger reward. The other part of this experiment was the nonsocial risk that they could take. They could choose to take a nonsocial risk in hopes of a bigger payout for their bananas, which was less certain than the guaranteed quantity of bananas.

The results for this experiment were interesting. The chimps on average avoided social risk much more than nonsocial risk. They took the nonsocial risk nearly twice as often as the social risk. This is very interesting because we know how social chimps are as animals. The fact that they avoid social risk so much more often shows how chimps lack trust in each other, even though there is potential for a greater reward.

In the second experiment, the testers wanted to see how previous relationships between the chimps affected their social risk behavior. This is designed to show just how important the trust of the chimps between themselves affected their behavior. To do this, the testers gathered chimps whose relationships varied from trusting, to neutral, to avoidant. They then ran the same social risk tests that they had previously but they rotated the partners to see how the relationships affected the outcome of the experiment.

Because of the seemingly large role of trust in the first experiment, the results were surprising. The already forged relationships between the chimps did not affect the chimps’ aptitude to take more or less social risk. The model that the researchers used could not predict what the chimps’ choices would be. There was no impact on how likely the chimps were to “trust” the other chimps, based upon how they had previously acted towards each other. This brings into question whether these experiments are truly based on trust at all. Even though some of the chimps had formed strong bonds, it did not mean that they were more likely to trust each other when it comes to testing. Therefore, the chimps may have simply done a more cost-benefit analysis of giving the other chimp the coin, rather than basing their choices off of their previous experiences. It is possible that the chimps may have mentally separated the testing environment with the outside world and their social actions. Overall, the chimps’ social levels of trust mimic similar tests run in humans. This is fairly logical because humans and chimps are so closely related. The reason chimps are averse to social risk is likely due to the value that they place on their social relationships. If one takes a social risk and is rejected for it, the relationship between the chimps diminishes and the value of their friendship decreases. Therefore, avoiding social risk may be their mechanism of protecting themselves from the possible detractors of their relationship. By not taking the social risk, the monkeys are avoiding stress in their relationships, which could in the long run benefit them and allow them more energy to do other tasks. Social relationships do have real time and emotional investment attached to them, and they can truly add or take away value from a social creature’s life. Therefore, not wanting to risk changing the status quo makes sense as a way for the chimps to protect themselves and their investment as well as their emotions. This factor can also be seen in humans.

Self-Other Agreement in Personality Reports: A Meta-Analytic Comparison of Self and Informant Report Means

When researchers want to evaluate a person’s personality, they most often allow the person to fill out themselves about their own personality. This could be done not only by researchers, but also by clinicians and doctors who want to find out more about a person and how they are feeling. However, because people are being allowed to self-report about their personalities, is it possible that people give biased answers. Do people really make accurate and honest assessments about themselves when they are given the opportunity to do so? This was the question the researchers wanted to find out. They wanted to compare how people’s own personality self-assessments differed or were similar to outsider evaluations by their peers or by strangers as well. It is a very interesting thing to know how one’s internal perspective on themselves may not be the same as the perspectives of those who objectively look at them from the outside.

This report is a meta-analysis, so the researchers were looking at other’s research papers and evaluating from their data what they wanted. The researchers looked at data on self evaluations and compared them to outsiders evaluations to see how they may not be biased. Researchers also looked at the potential biases of those closer to the guinea pig, as they may be biased by what they were told by the subject themselves or their perception of them due to their closer connection with the subject. They also looked at how those with more distant relationships may view the subject, as they would not be as aware of the subject’s inner thoughts on themselves and would give a more unbiased perspective on the subject’s personality. The methodology for testing this was that the average value of the self reports was subtracted from the average value of the informant reports. This number was then divided by the average value of all reports, both self and informant. Therefore, if the overall number generated from this sequence was positive, it would mean that the self reports were more positive than the informant reports. If the overall value was more negative, it would mean that the informant reports were more positive than the self reports.

The results of this experiment were quite interesting. Overall, there was not an inflation of self reported personality judgements over informant reported personality judgements. There was a slight inflation in one personality category, which was the openness/intellect category, but besides that, the self reports and the informant reports matched up nicely. This was overall very interesting because it is logical that people would overrate themselves when they were personally able to judge themselves. From the data, we can clearly see that this was not the case. People overall were fair in the evaluations of their own personality. This is useful information to know because it shows that we really are able to trust people’s self evaluations, and makes the self evaluation a more useful tool in clinical psychology or other fields. The one group who were the furthest away rom the average judgement were strangers. Strangers were much more likely to give one’s personality traits lower scores than all other groupings did. This could be because strangers are often wary of new people and are less open and welcoming to them as a means of self-protection. Because of this initial wariness and being closed off, strangers were less able to get to know a person and find their positive character traits. As well, based on how the testing was done, this could also be because when interacting with a stranger, people are much more closed off themselves, and are less likely to convey the positive character traits that they are being judged for. However, in a properly controlled study, this is very unlikely to be an issue as it would be a glaring flaw in the data. Allowing the subjects to interact in different ways with other people would obviously change the outcomes of the personality test, so these variable should absolutely be controlled for. One way of controlling for these variables would be to record a person interacting with another person, and show the same video to all different groups of people. This would not allow their to be a difference in the information the subject is presenting to the judges, but only a difference in how the judges process the subject. 

Use of Face Information Varies Systematically from Developmental Prosopagnosics to Super- Recognizers

Prosopagnosics are people who have great trouble telling people’s faces apart. They often feel like faces blend together and must find another identifying feature in order to properly identify who someone is. On the other hand, some people are super-recognizers and are able to tell the difference between a vast number of people with just the smallest differences. The researchers wanted to find out what was the mechanism behind the large differences in ability between these two groups of people, as well as those who have normal facial recognition ability. The researchers set out to find out if there was a particular skill or skillset that some had that allowed them to be so much more adept at recognizing faces than others.

The methodology was that the researchers rounded up people from the general population, and used more than 100 test subjects. They also added in 5 prosopagnosics to the pool as well in order to examine this population more thoroughly. They also got 8 super-recognizers into the mix as well. The researchers had the subjects take part in the Cambridge Face Memory Test and the Cambridge Face Perception Test, where the subjects had to memorize different faces and attempt to tell them apart. After one round of this, the test would change and would increase in difficult with new facial angles that the subjects had to evaluate as well as different conditions that the faces were seen from. The faces of celebrities were thrown in with the other faces as a way to simulate the face of someone that would be seen in ones’ everyday life. This is because celebrities are familiar and seen often, so they should equate to a similarity to another person who is seen regularly in social situations. The subjects had to group the faces together based on how similar they were. The numbers in the scores represented the differences in the faces seen, so those who got lower scores did better, because it meant that there were fewer differences in the faces grouped together.

As expected, the prospagnosics scored much worse than the average population and the super recognizers scored better. An interesting thing seen from this study was how the super recognizers were able to be so much better at recognizing faces than the others. It was seen that the super recognizer focused much more on the mouths and eyes of those who they were studying. This contrasts with the general population and especially the prosopagnosics who focused much more on the whole face rather than one individual part of it.  There are heat maps in the study which showed where the subjects focused their attention, and it clearly demonstrates a difference in techniques between the groups. However, that is not to say that the super recognizer are making an effort to use this technique to find differences in face and the propagnosics are trying a bad strategy themselves. It is much more likely that these differences were developed during the child’s early development. There is also a very large possibility that these differences are due to simple genetic variation as well, which can cause many small but important changes like the ones we see here.

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